General Question

growler's avatar

When do you apologize for a delayed response?

Asked by growler (403points) July 23rd, 2010
15 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

I find myself often adding “Apologies for the delay” or “Sorry for the delay” to emails that I respond to more than 24 hours after they were sent. Is that appropriate, or am I being overly solicitous?

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NaturallyMe's avatar

I would usually apologize if i know they’ve been waiting for my reply, or i’ve told them i’d get back to them within a certain time but wasn’t able to for some reason. But i wouldn’t apologize just for an ordinary non-urgent email, especially not after such a short period as 24 hours.
But you’re not wrong of course, maybe you’re just the more efficient type who like to get things done ASAP, and that’s not a problem. :)

wundayatta's avatar

It really depends on the kind of email you are replying to. Urgent ones would need an apology after a day. Some would never need an apology. It’s the relationship you have with your correspondent that determines this.

growler's avatar

@NaturallyMe Thanks :) I suspect it’s the pace of my campus culture.
@wundayatta A very good point. What would you say about a general business environment where you are corresponding with your superiors?

Cruiser's avatar

I do…it’s only polite. People now use e-mail like IM’s and some expect an instant reply.

CMaz's avatar

STOP IT! Right now.

1. It is an an action of insecurity.
2. Or you are surrounded with selfish people that think you need to coddle them.
3. You are a kiss ass. ;-)

Or, you just think that way, causing you to go to step #1.

growler's avatar

@Cruiser That’s a mindset I’d like to discourage, since it puts both of us in a stressful position. You do have a point though, so I guess it boils down to your relationship with your correspondent (thanks, @wundayatta).

@ChazMaz I like to think it’s #2, but there’s probably a dose of #1 (and I hope none of #3!). Ceasing immediately!

mcbealer's avatar

Your question caught my eye because I literally just sent an email prefaced with a ‘sorry for the delay’ apology.

I tend to procrastinate, which is why I thrive on email. It’s instant, yet there’s a certain amount of lagtime one is afforded, unlike phone conversations or text messaging.

As far as when to apologize… my guide when I can’t get back to someone right away is usually dictated by the urgency of the conversation. Also, is this a close friend or family member (who knows everything I’ve got on my plate) or an acquaintance.

From time to time we all drop the ball, and in my opinion a sincere apology is never inappropriate. I also believe that as people get to know one another they develop an understanding of each others’ styles of communication and therefore establish a pattern that would help assuage any expectations regarding responses.

lapilofu's avatar

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a low threshold “sorry for the delay.” If neither of you really cares, no one’s hurt by including it in the message, but on the off-chance that they do care and were hoping for a quicker response, you’ve acknowledged that you may have inconvenienced them, which in turn may soften them toward you.

Berserker's avatar

I don’t, I answer in my own good time, and if people can’t deal with it then tough luck. I don’t feel the need to apologize unless I said I was going to reply at a certain time but didn’t, or unless the lapse of time in the message sent and my reply is ridiculously long.

It’s happened that some people have sent me casual how you doing mails and I didn’t answer for like three months. Then I would apologize, but otherwise, no.

Sharrona's avatar

I don’t usually apologize. I don’t assume people check email often; I don’t.

NaturallyMe's avatar

@Sharrona that’s sort of why i don’t apologize unless i know they’ve been waiting for me and i took some time to reply. I do check my emails daily, more than once, but i expect people to NOT expect me to be sitting at my computer all day long just waiting there to reply to their email ASAP…i mean, i have other things to do too.

downtide's avatar

At work, when dealing with customer emails, our company rule is 48 hours. Anything longer than that and they get an apology. But that’s only for customer emails. I don’t normally bother with an apology in an internal email unless the person I’m writing to had been expecting a reply by a particular time.

mattbrowne's avatar

Good manners.

wundayatta's avatar

@growler I’d say one wants to get back to superiors as soon as possible. They want to be sure you are doing a good job, so if you get back quickly, it shows you are paying attention. If you have a good answer, that’s even better. If not, an “I hear you” is pretty good, too.

However, if something does slip past, and it’s more than the normal time a boss expects to hear back from you, then some kind of apology or explanation could be appropriate.

starfinn's avatar

I stumbled upon this site because I was searching for a correct way to say that I was “sorry for the delay WITH my response,” (or ..“for the delay IN my response?”) anyway.. I always followed my idea which was, if I received an email from someone I knew or not, and my response was time sensitive to that person and/or the email had to do with our livelihood, then apologizing for not returning a prompt reply feels only natural to me. I have always felt this simple gesture was the least I could do.

I don’t check my email everyday, but probably should since a lot of others do. If someone wants to keep up with the rest of the world, we have to “go with the flow.” Especially if a portion of someones job pertains to the use of an email account, then they should keep on top of their inbox if they want to show they are good at their job.

Or you could set up a generated message! One that is generic so it would apply to both work and family… A message you make that automatically replays to any emails you receive. For example the message could say you “will respond in X (fill in how long)” or “I will look into that and get back to you at my earliest convenience” (but make it more friendly or official). Doing this buys you some time if you don’t check emails everyday or just don’t respond to them right upon reading them.

OK. Hope that made sense…
Good Luck!

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